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Indiana DNR announces change in procedures to deal with emerald ash borer

With more than two years experience in Indiana and drawing on the experience of Michigan and Ohio, the DNR today announced a change in the procedures required when dealing with an infestation of emerald ash borer.

To this date, when an infestation was found, the DNR, using federal funding, oversaw the required removal of ash tress in a one-half mile radius of the infestation. The tree removal was used to slow the spread of the pest.

Under the new protocols adopted through a new rule, the state will continue to monitor and delineate infested areas but will no longer require nor fund the removal of trees in an infested area.

"The removal of ash trees surrounding an infested area has not proved to be a effective approach to controlling the emerald ash borer because of the near impossibility in detecting a new infestation," said State Entomologist Dr. Robert Waltz. "Indiana will continue to do all we can to assist with controlling the spread of this pest and will work with property owners – municipal, state, private or others – to deal with infested ash trees on their property.

"It is possible that better tools to detect and to control this pest may become available in the next few years. Unfortunately, we cannot bank today’s realities on tomorrow’s dreams."

The emerald ash borer is believed to have been brought to the United States and Canada from China in a packing crate or other wood as long as 15 to 20 years ago. Because it has been in this country so long and our ability to detect new infestations is so inadequate, it is impossible to know where some infestations are located until the ash trees begin to die.

When first discovered, scientists believed it would be valuable to eliminate all ash trees with a half mile of an infestation (the effective range of the emerald ash borer) to slow the spread. Since that time, however, they have determined the that the beetles may have moved beyond the half-mile but we are unable to detect them.

Waltz said, however, that the state will continue to work with residents, the nursery industry and others to slow the spread of the pest. "Not moving firewood is one of the most effective steps Hoosiers can take to help stop the spread of the emerald ash borer," he said. "On its own, the beetle can move only relatively short distances. With people, the beetles can be moved across town or even across the state in one fell swoop."

"The nursery and wood industry is doing their part and scientists throughout the country, especially in Michigan, are looking for other ways to attack this pest."

Under the new protocol homeowners and other property owners with ash trees will not be required to immediately remove ash trees if within a half-mile of an infestation, the property owner will assume the expenses of removing the tree if it becomes infested and dies as of natural causes.


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